Illinois School Expansion Strengthens Learning Opportunities

By Lisa Kopochinski

BLOOMINGDALE, Ill.—A recent expansion at Winnebago Elementary School in Bloomingdale has allowed Marquardt School District 15 to triple its early childhood enrollment capacity. The additional classroom space has also enabled the district to transition from half-day to full-day kindergarten—a first for the community.

“The new, child-friendly spaces at Winnebago increase student engagement and interaction, as well as improve the social-emotional development of our youngest learners,” said

MSD15 Superintendent Dr. Jerry O’Shea in a statement.

Legat Architects designed this $8.6 million project and Marquardt School District 15 served as construction manager. Features include the following:

  • New gymnasium three times larger than the old one
  • New commons/multipurpose space where students eat
  • A cross-curricular STREAM (science, technology, reading, engineering, art, math) lab
  • Early childhood playground addition
  • Parking lot upgrades

The school’s new corridor is a large glass wall that displays an enclosed early learning playground where MSD15’s youngest learners can run, climb, ride, bounce and jump.

The corridor leads to a workroom and a conference room, then to the early learning classrooms, where floor-to-ceiling windows fill the spaces with daylight.

Between classrooms, integrated therapy rooms allow specialists to observe classes or work one-on-one or in small groups of students with specific needs. Each pair of classrooms shares a collaborative workspace in which teachers meet and plan lessons. Every classroom also has a restroom to promote independence and save instruction time.

“The space will allow for the rigorous and engaging lessons for our preschool and kindergarten students for years to come,” explained Winnebago Principal Shari Lazor. “The teachers love the expansion. They have ample room and it’s so much brighter than before.”

At a ribbon-cutting event last fall where more than 250 community members gathered within the new gymnasium—which is triple the size of the previous one and allows more physical education opportunities and community assemblies—MSD15 School Board President Jean Randazzo thanked the community for its commitment to the children.

“This construction is the culmination of years of advocacy, planning and hard work from not only current, but also past boards of education, district administration, Winnebago school and staff, Legat Architects, and the district’s own recently-retired buildings and grounds director Bill Brown.”

Added Legat President/CEO Patrick Brosnan, “MSD15 has emerged as a regional leader and champion for full-day kindergarten and early childhood education for students. The district is setting an example for other districts that are studying options to implement similar programs.”